Anyone who calls themselves even a semi-serious skier knows the name "Warren Miller". For those that don’t know who he is, let’s just say that he is the original skibum. He’s the guy that if you’ve done enough tv-remote clicking, you’ve come across one of his infamous ski and snowboarding films, wherein he is – in a way that only Warren Miller can do – narrating what we’re seeing…which is always some of the most unbelievable free skiers and snowboarders on the planet. To many people (myself included) Warren Miller’s monotone voice has become the familiar narration of the ski bum lifestyle. He makes stars out of free-spirit skibums who could less about the stardom. Like us, they just want to ski…and ski everyday if possible.
Warren Miller films have been exploring winters since 1949. His films showcase every aspect of the snow industry such as snowboarders, females, heli-skiing, a few chosen resorts, and that elusive skibum lifestyle and of course a few sneaky plugs for the corporate sponsors. Every film is filled with amazing powder and amazing riders.
Warren Miller is an icon in the business of snow. Well, last night I got a call from Warren Miller! It was amazing! I was sitting in my favorite living room chair, doing the remote thing, switching between the BCS National Championship football game (congrats to Texas) and a Warren Miller film. He was showcasing some of the best free skiers from the champagne powder of Steamboat, knee shaking steeps of Alaska, and some shots from Aspen, etc…always some of the most sacred spots on Earth for making turns, hitting air and risking it all for the sake feeling that Adrenalin rush.
During one portion of last night’s film there was a segment wherein Miller poked fun at ski resorts "false reporting" of conditions. This particular segment alluded to several resorts posting "hard packed granular" conditions and Miller was poking fun at the resorts by showing several skiers walking up a very gradual incline of "hard-packed granular conditions" and each would only make it about six feet up…only to slide back down. It even showed a dog attempt the climb…only to fail! Warren Miller was "on my side"! I couldn’t believe it. This ICON of the industry was "singing my tune."
Anyone who follows this website knows that I have periodically gotten on my soapbox about the screwed up reporting of base depths at almost every resort. Okay, they’ve been more than periodic…and more like rants. Nevertheless, you guys KNOW I steam when a resort reports the same base depth for days on end…and then show bare spots or close slopes…and yet KEEP the same depth. And HERE was Warren Miller not only agreeing with me…he was poking fun at them too!
…and then my phone rang! I was thinking to myself, "Who in the world would be calling me so late." I answered and it was Warren Miller. He said, "Mike, I want to talk to you about your unyielding stance on the base depth reporting."
I was dumbfounded! Here I was watching Warren Miller and he not only called me, he called me by name, without an introduction. I responded excitedly, "Sure thing Mr. Miller, what can I say?"
He replied, "Mike, do you know who I am?"
Well duh, I thought. Instead I answered in sheer respect, "Of course I do, but how do you know who I am?"
He ignored my question and answered, "Mike I have been made aware of your take on this base depth thing and hell man, we all know these *#@*&!’s are ALL lying, but man you’ve got to give it a rest. You’re ruining the fengshui of the industry man!"
I noticed he used the word "man" a lot, but I didn’t care, this was Warren Miller. I responded, "Mr. Miller, what do you mean?"
"Well son", he answered, "We all know that every resort in the country overstates and never accurately reports the conditions from day to day.
Do you know WHY though Mike?"
"Uh, no." I answered.
"Because MAN, anyone who gives a flip is out skiing or snowboarding or playing in the stuff. WHO CARES how much snow there is as long as we can do our thing in it," he said.
"But Warren, if nobody cares then WHY lie about the numbers to start with?"
He answered, "Call me Mr. Miller – Mike. Oh I’m not saying that nobody cares. Of course the pencil pushing guy who’s punching numbers on his calculator cares. The mountains ops guys care. But do YOU really care, Mike? As long as there’s enough to ride on…do YOU REALLY care how much is under you?"
"Well MR. MILLER, no I guess I don’t, but I care about my people, you know the ones who visit my site. I don’t like people driving for hours only to see something different than what they’ve been told. What about them?"
"Man, you’re missing the whole point! REAL skiers and riders don’t care about numbers. Hell man, most of them can’t add two plus two. Most of the people we feature in our films played hooky so many days from school to be on the snow that they don’t even look at the numbers. They just want to know that there IS snow somewhere." He added, "Mike, have ever watched my films?"
Before I could answer, he added, "Hell man, we show as much footage showing these young freaks skiing down steps, railings and rooftops with NO snow on them as we do the powder shots. Most people only care that there is snow somewhere…anywhere. So Mike, will you work with me here and give this thing a rest? You’re killing the vibe man."
"I don’t kn-" I began as he interrupted me, "Mike you’ll find that most of your people don’t care about the lying, stinking, no good for nothing slope condition reporters. We ALL know that there lying so just do it for those of us who really care about the pure sport of riding.
Will you do that for ME, Mike?"
Before I could answer him, I felt a pain in my side like someone was poking me. Then I woke up! It was my wife telling me to quit snoring! My first thought was "Damn honey, you made me hangup on Warren Miller." However, I realized that Warren Miller had not called me. What a disappointment!
It was no dream that I had watched his newest film ealier that evening. It was true that he had poked fun at ski resort reporting of "hard packed granular conditions" (you can watch the show yourself…it’s there)…but the rest was all a dream.
As the cobwebs cleared a little I thought to myself that regardless whether it was all a dream…maybe "Warren" was right about what he said.
Maybe "my people" don’t really care. Maybe I SHOULD give it a rest. I made up my mind that I would write about my "conversation" with Warren
Miller and put it out to you – "my people" and let you guys decide which direction I should take.
I’ll post a poll in a few moments and ask the question…and whichever way YOU GUYS decide, that is what I will do.
I’m going to stick to my guns about resorts reporting NATURAL SNOWFALL AMOUNTS because from ten years of doing this website I get a LOT of emails from people wanting to know which resort has REAL SNOW to go and sink there bodies into. When a resort reports 4", I don’t like the idea of people driving five hours to a resort looking to see THAT snow and not finding it. However as to the base depths…you guys tell ME. Do you want me staying on point here…or to shut the heck up!
Until Next time…
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